Monday 15 September.
It was nearly 7am when we eventually awoke this morning, yesterday had really taken it out of us. We deserved to have an easy day today. I am still squeezing Gaz out of the cylinder and we had a cup of tea with our bread and jam for breakfast. Before leaving Moira did all our washing and hung it to dry around the room, hopefully there is enough time for it to dry before we leave tomorrow.
At 9am we made our way up to the Carrefour supermarket hoping to find some camping Gaz. They did have it but it was in smaller canisters and I didn't know if my burner adaptor would fit. We decided to come back when we returned from Reims and get the burner from the hotel and check it out.
From the bus routes map in the bus shelter we saw it was a straight road into the city and we headed along it. It was a busy road but we had a big broad pavement to walk on. It was obviously the route into a major city as it was lined with car dealership. It went through the suburbs of Tinqueux and Epernay then crossed the Pont de Vesle into the city. The bridge went over the motorway then the canal where we will pick up the towpath again tomorrow.
Once over the bridge we followed the signs to the Cathedral and the Tourist Info. We could see the wonderful Cathedral at the top of the street with its huge square towers, the tourist office signs pointed that way as well but when we reached the large square in front of the Cathedral they disappeared. I had to resort to asking a passerby and he spoke English, he said to follow him and it was in the corner of the square. There we got a city map and requested the woman who spoke excellent English to phone our selected accommodation for tomorrow. We had two numbers, one for a cell phone, but neither got a reply. We said we would come back again later to try.
We went next to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. It surpasses any we have seen previously, even those at Burgos and Leon in Spain. The Cathedral was all but destroyed by a fire at the start of the War in 1914 then by bombing which left the whole of the city devastated in 1918. There was a photographic display of the destruction caused by both incidents and how the town and church have been restored and risen again to their former magnificence. Around the doorways and all over the outside were carvings of biblical scenes and prominent figures from thr bible and the church. One that was famous was that of the 'Smiling Angel'. The head had been destroyed in the bombings but had been reconstructed from photographs and is an angel with a smile on its face. Other than the outstanding architecture the other breathtaking feature were the windows. The stained glass was better than those in Leon, Spain and those were exceptional. While we walked round the organ was playing in the background and later from somewhere a choir softly sang and chanted. The restoration of this wondrous place shows that there are still craftsmen and artisans capable of carrying out such work with loving and tender care.
After leaving we remembered about our Via Francigena credentials and returned to have them embossed with a beautiful Cathedral stamp. We then walked around the outside and through the gardens at the back admiring the structure from the outside. In the gardens two men were busy drawing pictures of the building. At the side of the Cathedral was the Palace of Tau where the objects associated with the Coronation of French Kings are displayed. In 498AD, the King of Franks Clovis was baptised here and since then Notre Dame has been the choice Cathedral for the Coronation of 25 Kings.
Next we had a walk about the streets of the city, it is a very nice and open place with wide streets and lots of tourists. Along the main shopping streets we were on the look out for a place that might sell camping Gaz. I didn't hold out much hope of finding a camping shop or ironmonger's in the expensive city centre. But hope springs eternal and lo and behold there was a large sports outlet. At first it didn't look promising with mainly shoes and sportswear on the first two floors. Our last chance was the basement and there they had bicycles and camping gear. And on a shelf in the corner were the canisters we were looking for as well as the small ones we saw at Carrefour earlier. The fittings for both sizes were the same so I decided to get a big one here and a small one as a stand-by when we shop at Carrefour later.
Moira suggested that we finish off early in the city and give our legs a rest, so we decided to get the bus back. First though we had lunch; at a Spar we got pâté, bread and some beer then sat in the gardens at the Cathedral on a bench beside the two men we saw earlier drawing; they were still busy with their sketching. Before heading for he bus we asked at the tourist office about phoning. The woman said that they had phoned back and said to use another telephone number but this went to voice mail. She left a message and the tourist woman said she would get in touch by phone or email if the accommodation was confirmed.
Now it was back to our hotel. The bus dropped us off at the Carrefour supermarket and it only took 15 minutes. We decided to take the bus tomorrow to the canal where we can start walking as we had walked that bit there this morning. After doing the shopping and getting something for dinner, the decision was to eat in our room again, we strolled back to the hotel. Now with plenty of Gaz we could have a big cup of coffee and relax on the bed drinking it.
The washing was still slightly damp but will be dry by morning. The WiFi here wasn't very good especially having to go to the reception area to connect. Moira managed to download a library book and I posted my blog but when I tried to send an email to the 'Greenock Telegraph' it wouldn't go because of the photographs attached. We had dinner in our room roast chicken and salad and a nice cheap red wine. After that we relaxed on the bed, read the newspaper and I made progress with the crossword.
The woman from theTourist Office in Reims didn't get in touch about our accommodation for tomorrow. Moira sent a text message to the gite in Trepail where we are heading a text saying we are coming. We just have to hope for the best that we get a bed.